Career Building: Kevin Leong, Future Architect

Career Building: Kevin Leong, Future Architect

Kevin Leong
First year, Master of Architecture

What are you currently working on with School of Architecture and Interior Design?
I am the president of a chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) at Andrews University. This is a national organization for architecture students and it’s the sole student voice in discussions between multiple architectural organizations; it also encompasses broad architectural decision-making processes of The American Institute of Architects (AIA), The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), The National Council of Architecture Registration Boards (NCARB) and The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).

What do you do as president?
Basically, I am trying to be the bridge between the architecture industry and Andrews University’s architecture students—it’s a role that helps prepare them for the real world.

How are you preparing them for the real world?
To help students prepare for the real world we a have a whole list of things: we organize firm tours, bring them to conferences organized by the industry, have panel discussions with professors and architects, have design competitions and have workshops to improve students’ architectural skills. For AIAS this year, we are also starting a new program called Freedom by Design, which is an AIAS community service program in partnership with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). The program uses the talents of architecture students to radically impact the lives of people in their community, through modest design and construction solutions.We also have architecture vespers twice a month, as we believe in approaching architecture and design with a Christian perspective.

What made you want to pursue architecture as your career?
I've always been interested in architecture as a kid, but I decided on social architecture after I entered Andrews’ School of Architecture and Interior Design.

What’s the difference between regular architecture and social architecture?
Social architecture is designing more for “the people,” but also working to confront architectural dilemmas involving those who can't really afford it, like working with housing in social services.

Do you see social architecture as a way of giving back to society or doing God’s work?
Yes, I think social architecture has a lot to do with Christian education and God’s work.

You are currently in Africa on a project. How did you end up participating in that? Can you explain exactly what your group is doing there?
I am a part of the urban design studio, which is the graduate architecture studio; this year, we are working with the Ubuntu Design group, the eThekwini Municipality (a local government body), and the Siyanakekela Youth Skills Development. We are here to do an urban planning proposal in Umbumbulu, which is a township outside of Durban, South Africa. The reason we are all working together is to propose a low-cost housing prototype to help poor families to afford a comfortable yet dignified house.

After your work there and after graduating from Andrews, what is your next professional step?
When I get out of school, I’d definitely like to start working for a firm in the United States before starting my own architecture firm.

Do you think you will still try bridging the gap between the industry and students, like you’re doing now?
Yes, definitely. I think I’ll help Andrews’ students more, because we don't really have a relationship with the architecture industry. So providing more internships and more opportunities in architecture firms would be a great start for up-and-coming students.

Is there any advice you’d give to someone who is studying architecture, and trying to find their path in it?
I would say you have to be very passionate to do architecture. It’s a long road from when you start your first classes to when you become a licensed architect, and it is not the program for everyone.

She Came, She Saw, She Contoured

She Came, She Saw, She Contoured

Andrews Honors Programs Celebrates 50 Years of Excellence